DAYS TO HARVEST
USES & COOKING SUGGESTIONS
Stinging Nettles make excellent soup! In the spring, just as your stinging nettle patch begins to look full and green, harvest the tender tops (usually the first 4 leaf sets) from each stalk (using gloves unless you don’t mind the stings!) with a pair of scissors. (This will encourage bushier growth too!) Harvesting nettles can be somewhat time-consuming, but is well worth it! You’ll want to harvest about 1/2 a paper shopping bag lightly filled with nettles. Rinse these and pull out any bits of grass or other non-nettle leaves that may have gotten into the bag. Put the nettle in a pot with enough water to cover and add 3 medium chopped potatoes and 2 chopped, sauteed onions. We like to add chicken or vegetable bullion. If you wish you can also add a sprinkle of thyme. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Blend with an immersion blender and add salt to taste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt.
Nettle-cream sauce over rice or pasta is also a delicious spring dish: Harvest nettles as above, and chop them with scissors after washing until they are in small pieces. If you prefer to take the leaves off the stems before chopping them it will make a finer dish, but some folks don’t mind the stems, and want less bother. Saute 1 onion in about 4 tablespoons of butter, then add the nettles and allow to cook for a few minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of all-purpose wheat flour and stir until the nettles and onions are coated. Add 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of milk slowly, stirring while you add the liquid. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste, and serve over rice or pasta. You can also add some sharp cheese just before you take the sauce off the heat if you wish. Other things you can add include mushrooms, bacon or ham, red peppers (if you still have some in your freezer from last fall) or rosemary. You can also use this sauce to replace bechamel sauce or ricotta in lasagna.
Always handle nettles with care and use gloves so that you don’t get stung (unless you don’t mind the stings!)